Maggs Bros Ltd

Album of photographs of New Zealand and Australia, from some of the best commercial studios of the late 19th century: Burton Bros., Dunedin; Henry King, Sydney and Charles Kerry & Co., Sydney.

AUSTRALASIA (c.1890.)

£2000.00 

Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

An album (37.5x28 cm) containing 57 albumen prints, 2 silver gelatin(?) prints and a newspaper cutting. All on card sheets and titled in manuscript. Majority in excellent, bright condition, a few gaps in the album, but only one sign of obvious extraction on verso of the fourteenth sheet. Half contemporary black calf (repaired) over teal, pebble-grained cloth, modern gilt titling and decoration to spine, a.e.g.; overall very good. Various places incl. Dunedin, Sydney, Perth, Suva (Fiji).

A lovely, coherent album that contains some of the best Australasian commercial photography of the period and eight amateur photographs of the harbour and botanical gardens in Sydney, dated 1890 (these presumably taken by the tourists who compiled the album).  

Eleven out of the sixteen photographs of New Zealand bear the signature of the Burton Bros. studio (written on the negative). They chiefly depict a number of geothermal landscapes from the centre of the North Island, such as the Great Geyser at Wairakei, Alum cliffs at Wai-O-Tapu and boiling mud and sulphur pools at Tikitere. There is also one photograph of a carved Maori house at Ohinemutu, Rotorua, which is almost certainly the work of Alfred Burton, who focused on landscape and native peoples while his less adventurous brother worked on portraiture back in Dunedin. Alfred is thought of as one of the most significant visual documenters of New Zealand in the 19th century, particularly for his series Through the King Country… (1885) which showed Maori living in the south-west of the North Island.  

Among the forty-two photographs of Australia are nine from the studio of Henry King and eighteen from the studio of Charles Kerry. Working in the heyday of albumen printing (1860 to 1890) these two Sydney-based photographers were among the most prolific and innovative of their time, travelling further into unfamiliar parts of the Pacific and trialling experimental technologies (both used the magnesium flash for exposures in caves). The majority of the photographs, taken by both men, depict scenes in New South Wales; King’s are more romantic, capturing the Blue Mountains and stalactites in the Jenolan caves, while Kerry’s predominantly picture townscapes, civic buildings and beaches in Sydney.  

It is likely that the album was put together by passengers aboard the R.M.S. Rimutaka, of the New Zealand Steamship Company, as a newspaper clipping announcing its arrival in Hobart, Tasmania is laid down on the verso of the front free endpaper, which is faced by a photograph of the ship. ‘R.M.S. Rimutaka arrived from London, via the Cape, at 5:45 a.m. to-day, and berthed at the Dunn Street Pier… The Rimutaka will sail for New Zealand this evening, after she has landed the 250 tons[sic] of cargo she has for the port.’ (The Tasmanian News, Thursday evening, 30 October 1890).

Stock Code: 223155